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Praise for ‘stand-up guy’ in US

Washington, Feb. 8: The US told India in the run-up to Saturday’s vote at the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) that it must be prepared in the short run to harm its trade or even diplomatic relations with Tehran in exchange for the longer term benefit of avoiding an Iran with nuclear weapons.

Paula A. DeSutter, the assistant secretary of state in charge of verification, compliance and implementation ' the Bush administration’s point person on all matters relating to non-proliferation and disarmament ' told The Telegraph that India’s first vote at the IAEA in favour of hauling Iran up before the UN Security Council brought “a lot of credibility and stature” to New Delhi’s policies on the spread of atomic weapons.

In an interview shortly before the IAEA’s governors met to pass their latest resolution on Iran’s nuclear programme, she said, using popular American slang, that “India looked like a stand-up guy” after that vote. There was appreciation in Washington that it was not an easy choice for India to make, she said.

DeSutter revealed that she is often asked why the Americans were making too much of Iran’s nuclear programme while the Bush administration was negotiating benefits for India in civilian nuclear energy and technologies for dual civilian and military use though New Delhi was pursuing an atomic weapons programme.

“While the US desires universal adherence to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, countries (like India) have the sovereign right to avoid NPT if they are not willing to honour the commitments that are required of signatories to the treaty.”

DeSutter said what was unacceptable in Iran’s case was that Tehran had adhered to the NPT and was then violating its core elements. “Iran’s history in the last 20 years has been one of using its membership of NPT and the IAEA to cover and conceal its weapons intent.”

Besides, she said India’s nuclear deterrence has been publicly debated in the country and the people of India had repeatedly endorsed it by voting in free elections in favour of policies by political parties either to keep open or exercise the nuclear option.

Iran’s nuclear programme, she said, has never been debated openly and the Iranian people have never been offered a choice on what they wanted on the nuclear question.

DeSutter declined to go into specific details of diplomatic negotiations between the US and India on Iran’s nuclear programme or on the vote in Vienna.

But it was possible to make the inference from what she said that the US had made it clear to Delhi that any decision to stand by the majority in the IAEA ' which voted to report Iran to the Security Council ' would reinforce the concept of a collective approach by the international community to global security.

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